Brexiteer says no-deal Brexit lorry tests will cause 'enormous confusion'

PUBLISHED: 11:51 07 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 07 January 2019

Lorries parked in a queue during a trial at the former Manston Airport site in Kent. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Lorries parked in a queue during a trial at the former Manston Airport site in Kent. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

A Conservative Brexiteer has hit out at his government's "complex" plans to test Kent's ability to deal with lorry congestion in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

MP Charlie Elphicke criticised the idea as nearly 100 lorries descended on Manston Airport near Ramsgate in Kent to test out using the runway as an HGV holding bay to prevent traffic jams on roads to Channel ports.

The trial, called Operation Brock, has seen lorries directed along the A256 towards Dover in a 20-mile journey which should take around half-an-hour.

The MP for the town lashed out at the plan branding it “too complex” and likely to cause “enormous confusion” for drivers.

On Twitter, he said: “Routing lorries via Manston is not the answer.

A lorry passes a sign to Deal on the day of two tests of a plan to use the former Manston Airport site in Kent to hold lorries in the event of no-deal Brexit disruption at the channel ports. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA WireA lorry passes a sign to Deal on the day of two tests of a plan to use the former Manston Airport site in Kent to hold lorries in the event of no-deal Brexit disruption at the channel ports. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

“Far better to extend the tried and tested traffic management system on the A20 at Dover to Kent’s motorways.

“That way lorries can be effectively managed, got most speedily to the ports and all our motorways can be kept open.

“Manston should only be used as a last resort.

“Trying to explain to lorry drivers - many from overseas - to go there will be very difficult.

“The whole route plan is far too complex and will cause enormous confusion.”

In response to the post, Dover resident Gary Moore said the town is “badly affected” by truck traffic which can bring the whole road system there “to a standstill”, adding: “There has to be a plan that works.”

The large convoy of lorries from regional and national haulage companies descended on Manston from 7am on Monday to form a queue along the runway.

Companies taking part in the trial included Eddie Stobart, Ramsgate-based White’s Transport Ltd, Salvatori Group from Canterbury and Swains in Rochester.

Congestion at the Channel ports caused by the reintroduction of customs checks on goods has been one of the most commonly cited negative effects of a no-deal withdrawal from the EU at the end of March.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We do not want or expect a no-deal scenario and continue to work hard to deliver a deal with the EU.

“However, it is the duty of a responsible government to continue to prepare for all eventualities and contingencies, including a possible no deal.

“We will be testing part of Operation Brock to ensure that, if it needs to be implemented, the system is fully functional.”

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